Ok, so here we are, heading to catastrophy, via entropy, as Dr Seuss says, "unless". In my way of thinking there's only a few possibilities for how to live as someone who'd be reading this article in 2016, going on 17: either just be cool, nice to your friends and family, with a job that means something or you like for breezy reasons; or become a permaculturalist; or become a climate scientist; or make bricks out of mushrooms or bacteria; or dedicate your life to peace - not necessarily pacifism, as George Orwell convinced me yesterday morning as I lay with him, words only, in bed; or stay on the ground, moving by feet or bike only, even if tours come up; or cover your whole body in plastic, plastic gleaned from the drinks you and your friends consume, plastic gleaned from your favourite beach, putting it on your body exteriorly instead of it becoming interior destructo-art in the guts of your favourite bird type; or blow up a something when no-one's there - weapons factory? big w store?; or meditate and pray in a way that everyone else joins you. We'll eat black beans and salad and just let birds land on us, watch native plums swell day by day while our smiles stay the same, we radiate with the earth. The earth is made for us, and we are made for it. We could stay here in some great utopia, if only we waggled and wazzled things in a non-destructive way. As a famous perth clip says "It's just sooo eeeeasy!"
Highlights? Well, the other night Stephen Bellair played as Reef Prince - this is the dying spirit of Perth music, dying but still with fifteen years left in it, the spirit of "going for it" - something borrowed, something blue, something half-baked, something amazing and new. He sang "She want my crayfish/I don't need a girlfriend". Great for a pale male, one of my favourites, a great friend, a flawed man as us all, a deep heart, deep intractable friendship that's saved my life this year, and this is the second thought - I went with friends to the Ab Music 30th year anniversary show. It was poorly attended. There was great kangaroo stew. A few people's voices gave me spiritual shivers. And they all were singing about wanting respect - women wanting respect from men; they sung about trauma, getting off drugs, suicide, family in prison. This is our two-tiered world and we all know it: crayfish and suicide.
Second pale male highlight: Benjamin Witt doing an acknowledgement of country for the first time, in his set at El Grotto. I spoke with Mt Mountain man the other night at Mojos, before Stephen played, and one of his only Perth highlights for 2016 was Benjamin Witt. Musically, but more than that, morally, historically, trying, trying to find what his place as privvo pale-male is in this world. He'll use his voice now for others, he'll step aside when it's time. Ben's talked about his new musical projects, all tied in to finding out about the history and people of this land we're all on, and because he's boss, he'll do it.
Another highlight - watching the singer from Mung Dahl play solo at the Oddfellow, two guys behind me quietly but not quietly enough judging, heckling. "Play something entertaining! He's only playing A minor" etc. I walked up to them, boozed as I never am, alcohol just makes me more confident and more loving, and said to the guy "It might not be entertaining for you, but it's very entertaining for me." "Why?" "Because it's real. You should listen." We then kept talking at the end of the set. He and his friend were embarrassed into listening with their hearts and came to see something different in the great personal music. The guy told me he was from the navy, he drives submarines, and we went down together into the discussion of ships and who should be on them - the cruise liner in Freo port, capable of taking 5000 people and how instead of taking 5000 champagne soft-skinned relaxers it could be bringing 5000 war-torn desperate people here, children, women and men - yes men too, muslim men, and talked about our families and at the end he was hugging me and I was hugging him, telling one another how special we each were. "When I make a mistake, people die" he told me early on. "You're the reason I do what I do. You're the reason I know there's another way" he told me later on, which was kind of confusing but I knew what he meant. And I knew that when he said "You" he meant all of humanity, because we'd covered that too.
Lana is also the winner of 2016. Her unashamedly great, trained voice makes people look at each other with big eyes, her weird and unpredictable sets mean the rooms are less full but everyone there is init. Her textures are a taste palate many people aren't used to, but appreciate as soon as it touches their tongue.
Hearing is the big interstate winner of 2016 - the song with the line "two boys, two boys", is the top hit for the year, as is Evelyn as Pikelet's song with the line "it is open/ it is unwritten" which gave my right thigh shivers even as I typed it.
Akioka is the winner of 2016. The 60 or 120 seconds at Highgate Continental when she shifted the crust of the earth beneath us, the sky above us, where it was impossible to believe the sound coming from her mouth was sound coming from her mouth, will be remembered.
Kucka is the winner of 2016, singing in Paris to thousands in front of Flume's pretty good creations, work ethic, personal ethic brilliant as diamonds.
Emlyn Johnson is the winner of 2016, his shows with his band at Mojos were also the interstate winners of the year - the most captivating, invigorating, philosophical and sideways political works of the year. Undeniable in their greatness.
And Swamp Clubb (Mei Saraswati/Matt Aitken/Mikala Westall), Lisa Stinson and Lyndon Blue are the winners of 2016. Swamp Clubb, a powerful tour of Northbridge through its spiritual and ecological past changed the way many people in our music and art community see the place we're on and in. Swamp Clubb's ripple effects are unhindered by the forces of gravity and friction. Lisa Stinson's explanation of 'Cas 9' and 'Crispr' at one General Knowledge Club session attended by less than a dozen people has also rippled into our world, changing minds; and Lyndon's curation of the greatest recent art and music space we've had - Success - underground, expansive, quality; yes, he done good.
Best Perth show: Drowning Horse at 208s. If a band can alter time, that's special. 2nd place: The Wedding Band featuring pale male cast of Lyndon Blue, Alex Griffin, Alex Last, Brett Smith and Chris Last, at the Dog Wedding on the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River). Best international show: Tame Impala at Zenith in Paris. Best choir: Burundi Peace Band Choir, Camp Doogs, Harvey.
2017: time (again) to change the world. No more heartbreaks please. Completely altered political and power structure please. Plastic-free, petrol-free year please. Plants and animals and all other elements: keep up the good work.